Catholic nun gives Myanmar a ‘Tiananmen moment’

Nun ready to die

A Catholic nun stopped military forces from advancing on protesters by dropping to her knees and pleading with them to refrain from using violence. It has been described as a ‘Tiananmen moment’ in Myanmar.

The scene was reminiscent of the 1989 images of a lone man blocking a path of tanks in Beijing. It followed the Chinese government violently suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

Sister Ann Nu Thawng, a member of the Missionaries of St. Francis Saverio of Myitkyina, knelt in tears before a row of police officers and security forces vehicles. She pleaded with them to stop the violence.

Since Myanmar’s military coup began Feb. 1, the streets of the country have been lined with protesters. They have been asking for the reinstatement of their State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, and her National League for Democracy party.

In 2015, Myanmar, held its first free election in decades, resulting in Suu Kyi’s victory. Many hailed her election as a step toward establishing a solid democratic system in Myanmar. The country was under military rule from 1962-2011.

The military defended its coup, accusing Suu Kyi and her party of failing to investigate voter fraud allegations in national elections. The NLD party won the November 2020 election in a landslide.

Cardinal Charles Bo, the archbishop of Yangon, posted several photos of the incident to Twitter, saying in a tweet, “About 100 protesters could escape from police” because of Nu Thawng’s intervention in the Myanmar ‘Tiananmen moment.’”

Bo, who has been documenting the coup and the protests from his Twitter account from the beginning, sent several other tweets describing the situation on the ground. He tweeted in one post accompanied by striking photos of the protests that, “This is not the movie scene. This is reality in Myanmar today.”

“The police used tear gas to divide the protesting crowd. They are young people fighting against the most brutal military dictatorship. Young people risk their lives to save other lives,” he said in the tweet.

Representatives of the Catholic Church in Myanmar, which has been outspoken in pleading for Suu Kyi’s reinstatement and a return to democracy, have also been active participants in the protests, with groups of priests and nuns marching through the streets carrying signs saying, “Save Myanmar,” “Peace in Myanmar,” and “Say No to Military Coup.”

Myanmar’s bishops have consistently advocated for peace and a refrain from violent measures since the coup began.


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